"Jane Austen... is perhaps the only English example of that spirit of classical comedy that is more natural to the Latin people than to ours and that Moliere represents for the French. That this spirit should have embodied itself in England in the mind of a well-bred spinster, the daughter of a country clergyman, who never saw any more of the world than was made possible by short visits to London and a residence of a few years in Bath and who found her subjects mainly in the problems of young provincial girls looking for husbands, seems one of the most freakish of the many anomalies of English literary history." - Edmund Wilson, "A Long Talk about Jane Austen" 
"One of those fairies who perch upon cradles must have taken her a flight through the world directly she was born. When she was laid in the cradle again she knew not only what the world looked like, but had already chosen her kingdom. She had agreed that if she might rule over that territory, she would covet no other. Thus at fifteen she had few illusions about other pople and none about herself... Jane Austen kept to her compact; she never trespassed beyond her boundaries... Spasms and rhapsodies, she seems to have said, pointing with her stick, end there; and the boundary line is perfectly distinct. But she does not deny that moons and mountains and castles exist--on the other side." - Virginia Woolf, "Jane Austen" 
"As Lionel Trilling points out, Jane Austen 'was committed to the ideal of "intelligent love," according to which the deepest and truest relationship that can exist between human beings is pedagogic. This relationship consists in the giving and receiving of knowledge about right conduct, in the formation of one person's character by another, the acceptance of another's guidance in one's own growth.' ...For her the pedagogic relationship is not parasitic but symbiotic, a relationship that is mutual and joyful... The happy resolutions of her novels celebrate the achieved integration of head and heart that is represented by the pupil and teacher coming to loving accord." - Juliet McMaster, "Love and Pedagogy"
"A serious interest in structure...ought naturally to lead us from Pride and Prejudice to a study of the comic form it exemplifies, the conventions which have presented much the same features from Plautus to our own day. The conventions in turn take us back into myth. When we compare the conventional plot of a play of Plautus with the Christian myth of a son appeasing the wrath of a father and redeeming his bride, we can see that the latter is quite accurately described, from a literary point of view, as a divine comedy." - Northop Frye, quoted by Joseph Wiesenfarth in "Austen and Apollo" [new favorite article on Austen]